Fermenting Apple Brandy

First batch of Stoll & Wolfe Apple Brandy fermenting away using 5 varieties of apples grown on a family farm less than 2 miles from our distillery. It’s also the first Apple Brandy (legally) fermented in Lancaster County since Prohibition.

A swig of Applejack a day will keep the doctor away” was more apt to be the slogan of our ancestors than the familiar one heard today.

Hiram Eberly “Spirits of Warwick Township

With a documented history of local farmers growing apples for alcohol production stretching back to the 1730’s and detailed records of (Jim and Erik’s) ancestor John George Klein’s orchards on distillery property dating back to the 1750’s, we’re honored to return the tradition to Lancaster County and eager for what the future holds for Stoll & Wolfe Apple Brandy.

Local historian Hiram Eberly wrote: “A swig of Applejack a day will keep the doctor away” was more apt to be the slogan of our ancestors than the familiar one heard today. While corn and rye were among the first crops the German Settlers planted after the forest was cleared, they lost no time in starting orchards.

These were ‘cash crops’ that could be sold by the ‘gallon’ when necessary.

Reference is made in the Royer Family History that during the 1730’s Sebastian Royer who is credited with settling Brickerville “did a thriving business with the Indians, trading his famous ‘Ciderlung’”. The Nanticokes were then on a reservation nearby adjoining the Brubaker and Eberly tracts.

Before the still was available our first farmers would put down as much as fifty barrels of hard apple cider every fall. After the water content froze the hard stuff would be removed and the demand was constant throughout the cold winter months.

Grain whiskies were valued as medicines. While some of the old reliable Indians’ remedies were soon adopted, they were seldom used without alcohol being added to increase their efficiency and these became our first patent medicines. Alcohol was the one sedative available then and practically everybody drank to some degree. They got an early start for peevish infants were often given a soothing mixture of Paregoric and spirits. The eye-opener was quite popular among early risers. Then there would be “lifts” and appetizers during the day, finally ending with a nightcap — and all from the same jug.

Grain was hard to transport to the city markets and oft times just as hard to keep from spoiling when stored. The very survival of many of our first settlers depended on turning their crops into “liquid” which could easily be carried to the city and sold for cash.

Life was hard and short for most of our ancestors and they felt that strong drink was a necessity of life. In fact they did not live long enough to realize the effects of prolonged over drinking as something else was sure to get them first.  They knew that spirits disinfected, brought warmth as well as good humor and cheer to their uncomfortable lot.

The first commercial distillery in operation in Lititz is believed to have been built in Rome along the Lititz creek in the 1760’s. What became of it is a mystery but we do know that a thriving business was done at the Inn in the Pilgerhaus (Hershey Apartments until 2008). It can also be assumed that George Klein’s interest in large orchards was not due to an excess demand for applebutter. When the Inn moved to the new Zum Anker building (Sutter Hotel), it became so popular that the Church Fathers complained that too many young people were getting drunk on Sundays. Later on it was ruled that no one should be served drinks at the Inn on Easter and Christmas “except in cases of necessity.” – Hiram Eberly Spirits of Warwick Township